Recently two things have caught my eye more than anything else. Fasting to tame corruption and ‘Slut Walk’ to protest against rape & allowing women the freedom to wear whatever they want. Personally, though I am against corruption and rape, I feel both the ways are stupid and ridiculous means to achieve their respective ends.
Corruption and fasting would be a whole different and full blown topic altogether, but in this article I choose to write about more important and flaming issue of the two, ‘Slut Walk’. I say so because the issue of safety of women is more fundamental and crucial to human existence than corruption (in comparison). In gravest of circumstances, I can live with corruption but can’t survive with a constant threat looming over our women every moment they step out alone.
If it would be me, then the only punishment for rape would be death. Set such a strong example that no one would ever dare to commit such atrocious crime. But this isn’t the point of discussion here. It is about a recent event called the “Slut Walk” which has been gathering momentum.
To quote Wikipedia
The SlutWalk protest marches began on April 3, 2011 in Toronto, Canada and have since become an international movement of rallies across the world. They are a protest against the belief that any aspect of a woman’s appearance might explain or excuse rape. The protest takes the form of a march, by mainly young women, where some dress in ordinary clothing, and others dress provocatively.
My first objection is to the name “slut walk”. Is it prudent for women to brand themselves as ‘slut’ to raise voice against an act as heinous as sexual harassment? That too when most of them aren’t one? ‘Slut’ comes from Middle English ‘slutte’, which in original sense of word, meant ‘a dirty, slovenly woman’ and was used with no suggestion of sexual promiscuity. Later its usage shifted to indicate the sexual escapades of a woman and evolved to what we know it as today. In a nut shell, it always had the derogatory sense attached to it and wasn’t something a women can be proud of.
I don’t see how branding yourselves as slut will help your cause, which undoubtedly is genuine. I am sure I now many women who would refuse to be called a slut but are equally offended by any sexual harassment that comes their way.
My second reservation is towards the whole approach of women dressing provocatively. Though I vehemently support the right of women to dress as they deem fit without being subjected to sexual harassment, I don’t support their way of scantily dressing to raise their voice against the issue. You will get your two minutes of fame if you dress provocatively while participating in a ‘Slut Walk’ but I am sure the fame would be as good as Poonam Pandey’s for her claims during Cricket World Cup 2011, short-lived and bogus. Indian cricket team was fortunate and determined enough to win the world cup. But scantily clothed women participating in ‘Slut Walk’ might not be lucky enough to achieve their aim and the whole parade will end up being an adult amusement show with real cause getting buried under the ‘assets’ on display.
But my main grief is with women dressing provocatively in general. Let me first establish my belief that if a women says NO, then a NO should mean NO. Her dressing sense, her walking alone at night, her being drunk should not be assumed as an invitation to rape her. Any act without her consent is a crime and should be heavily punished.
But my tussle is that if women dress to seek attention, then attention is what they are getting. What they need to realize is that not every man on this earth is sane enough to channelize his attention in respectable manner towards her. An honourable man would like to compliment her for her dressing sense and on other hand a lecherous man would try to rape her for wearing that dress and attracting his attention. The entire blame cannot lay with men. Women need to share some (though small) part of blame.
For example, if you don’t lock you home when you are away and some body steals all your stuff, then YES, thieves are wrong and should be punished, but don’t you think that you deserve certain part of blame as you were negligent enough to keep your house unlocked. Assuming that no one will rob your house because it’s a wrong thing to do is a utopian concept and doesn’t apply in real world.
Having worked in technology sector has given me ample chances to travel to western part of the world and observe how women dress and behave there. Interestingly, when the same women visit India, they are cautious about their dressing sense. They dress a bit more conservatively in India than what they would have they been in their own country.
So the bottom line, it IS dangerous to dress in certain ways and it IS dangerous to walk in the wrong areas of the city, at night, alone. It’s not right. But, unfortunately, it is true.
Women are rightfully just in demanding the power to dress the way they want. But with great power, comes the great responsibility. The wisdom of using that power at appropriate time and in correct direction is what women need to learn. Freedom of expression is everyone’s birth-right. Go, express yourselves but remember, this is not an ideal world we all would like to live in.
I am sure that many will have quite contrary opinion about this. I would love to hear your take on it. Comments section awaits you 🙂
[Update]: A friend pointed out that this article has a few similarities with the one published in Hindustan Times on June 17th 2011, esp the example of thieves. Though I don’t claim for that example to be my idea but borrowed from a discussion I had with a person in Delhi Metro. If his source was article in HT, then probably its an ignorant coincidence on my part.